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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Perspectives and practices of Asian Canadian teachers in decolonizing mathematics and music education Chen, Arthur Tien-Li


This thesis is a research study of the practices and perspectives of six Asian Canadian teachers as non-Indigenous settlers of colour in decolonizing education in the learning areas of mathematics and music. With a growing population of migrant communities, I raise the importance of understanding how people of colour construct their racial, national, cultural and settler identities as Canadians including their relationships with Indigenous peoples, lands, and knowledge systems. With the background of my own experience as an Asian New Zealander, I explore how Asian Canadian teachers have been practicing Indigenization and decolonization in their pedagogy. Drawing upon scholars in Indigenous, settler, and Asian Critical Studies, I investigate how participants’ constructs of identity affect their sense of responsibilities to participate in Indigenizing and decolonizing their teaching practice. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with six Asian Canadian teachers—three mathematics teachers and three music teachers. The interviews explored participants’ life stories and experiences that contributed to their identity construction as Asian Canadians and their experiences in learning and teaching Indigenous knowledge and worldviews. The findings suggest that the participants face experiences of being perpetual foreigners/denizens which I theorize is a barrier to Asian teachers realising responsibilities to decolonize. I offer my suggestions for stakeholders in education – i.e., policymakers, administrations, and educators – in the form of various approaches to decolonize education that centre goals of Indigenous self-determination.

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